Gray's last-second TD lifts Naperville North

Updated 4/23/2021 11:23 PM

The Naperville North Huskies battled back against the DeKalb Barbs in a nail-biter that came down to the final seconds.

After trailing for the entire second half, the Huskies finally overtook the Barbs on a 4-yard pounding rush by sophomore quarterback Aidan Gray to put the Huskies on top, 40-34, with eight seconds left to win the game.


"It was just pure excitement," Gray said. "We worked really hard for this win as a team, and I just couldn't be prouder of my offensive line."

The Huskies (2-1) employed a two-quarterback system, with Gray sharing time with senior Jonathan Bell.

"They go every two series," Huskies coach Sean Drendel said. "That's how we've done it all year. It wasn't a decision. It was his turn."

Gray also had a 45-yard touchdown run to tie the score at 34 with 4:01 remaining on the series before.

The tying score was set up by a quarterback-to-quarterback pass, with Bell handing off to Gray, who threw the ball back to Bell. Bell got the first down on a third-and-nine play. Gray tied the game on the next play.

"We've been practicing that for a long time," Gray said. "When I saw it, there was just a rush of adrenaline, and then when we converted it, it was very exciting."

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After a strong first half, the Barbs couldn't manage much offense, going three and out three times in the second half and coughing up the ball deep in their own territory, which ended in a score for the Huskies. The Barbs managed only one score in the second half on a 2-yard dive by Toriano Tate in the third quarter.

"They played better than we did in the second half," Barbs coach Keith Snyder said. "I thought we were winning our one-on-one matchups and that had a lot to do with (our success) in the first half."

Tate led the Barbs (3-3) with more than 100 yards on the ground and two touchdowns to go along with a toe-tapping 18-yard touchdown reception to close out the first half with the Barbs up, 28-14.

"Going into the game, my uncle told me, since I've been getting double-teamed, he told me just to attack one person," Tate said. "That's what I did. When I run, I just run hard and try to make a play."


After a slow start, the Barbs took control of the first half, starting in the final minute of the first quarter on Tate's first rush of the game. After the Barbs punted on their first three possessions, Tate took the ball on a sweep from midfield and dashed around the edge after breaking a tackle. Tate then raced down the sideline for a 46-yard touchdown.

The Barbs' offense took off after that in the first half, thanks in large part to Tate. After another 46-yard burst from Tate and a horse-collar tackle penalty, the Barbs were set up on the Huskies' 9-yard line. Trenton Kyler snaked his way behind his line from 4 yards out to tie the game at 14 with 9:10 left in the half.

The Huskies scored on a fluke play on their first possession of the game. Bell rifled a pass that deflected off receiver Stephan Williams' hands but bounced into the waiting arms of Aiden Pierce. Pierce rumbled 57 yards to the goal line to put the Huskies up, 7-0, with 8:30 left in the first quarter.

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